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3 min read

All About UGM Camp: A free gift to low-income kids

As camp season 2023 enters another fun-filled week, we wanted to take a step back and recognize the phenomenal community achievement that is UGM Camp.

 

“For me, the most special thing about UGM camp this week has been growing closer with my friends and leaders.”

- Addy, 2023 UGM Camper

 

For kids in Spokane’s low-income neighborhoods, summer isn’t always fun. Many have no parents at home during much of the day, and those who do still tend to have limited access to summertime activities. Whether that’s due to low funding, limited transportation, or dysfunction within the home, UGM wants to offer them an escape from the city free of charge. This is UGM Camp. But where did the idea come from and how does it work?  

Camp Cabin Group

 

The People

In the 1980s, UGM’s Danny Beard joined the team and brought with him a passion for children and teens to know Jesus and abundant life. His heart for early intervention with the kids in Juvenile Detention led to the creation of UGM’s first summer camp. For several years, he developed the program using rented camp facilities. But another opportunity quickly emerged through a legacy partnership: In 1991, Dick Shanks, a lifelong supporter of UGM, offered his riverside land, house, cabins, and recreational facilities to the Mission at a fraction of the value. What he still owed on it was all he asked.  


 
The Property

Located less than an hour outside of Spokane, 125-acre property was ideally situated for a camp. The board agreed to acquire the land and work began to develop it into a ministry facility. To do this, the UGM Foundation stewarded countless legacy gifts including a bequest from Elaine Linden for the chapel and from Gus and Vi Carlson for the kitchen/dining hall.  
 UGM-Camp-Property

 


The Partnerships 

Once the camp opened, initially called Tshimakain Creek Camp, further partnerships were pursued throughout the community. People like Roy and Sharyl Croswhite pitched in to help with maintenance, further construction, and facilitation. Most recently, Dan Crandell provided two large gifts, one for overall camp maintenance, and one for the construction of an adventure course (coming in 2024). Hundreds of other gifts have been contributed as well. 
 
Over time, two key partnership programs emerged that streamlined the Camp experience. 
 

Church partnerships 

Every year, 8-10 churches from Spokane’s low-income neighborhoods partner to invite local kids, bring a staff of volunteers, and facilitate a week of Camp. UGM still provides the support staff (including medical staff, grounds maintenance, and more), but without our partner churches, Camp would be impossible. The greatest benefit of this arrangement is that the campers are welcomed into year-round relationships with their local church, many choosing to attend after school programs and even Sunday services with their families.  

Church-Partner-at-Camp

Individual sponsorships

Providing a no-cost camp experience for up to 630 8 to 12-year-olds every summer is not cheap. Amazingly, the Spokane community has stepped up to the plate and responded well to our annual plea for sponsorships. By relying on churches and volunteers more than paid staff, we’re able to keep our overhead low, so sponsorships are only $152. Still, each sponsorship is a gift we don’t take lightly. Without generous community members like yourself, thousands of local kids may never experience the joys of summer camp. 

 


The Purpose 

UGM Camp is so much more than a week of adventure; it’s an invitation into friendship. 


Good friends 

Through trust-building exercises, team sports, and a group-oriented challenge course, kids experience the power of working together. And in the evenings, cabin leaders facilitate more intimate discussions about faith, family, and whatever struggles the campers are facing. In this setting, not only do kids enjoy time with new and established friends, but they develop skills that will help them navigate future relationships with wisdom.    

Team challenge course

The Greatest Friend 

We want every child to leave on their last day of Camp knowing that Jesus is the greatest friend they will ever have. Through sound gospel teaching, campers encounter the love of Christ. This life-changing hope goes with them into their schools, their homes, making a lasting impact on their families and future generations.   

 


 
BONUS! The kids love it!  

AddyLast week, we connected with UGM Camper Addy (pictured) and asked her what she loved most about her week at UGM Camp: “For me, the most special thing about UGM camp this week has been growing closer with my friends and leaders. I feel like people now really know me & I know them. In Chapel, I learned how to communicate with God. I’ve never been to camp or church before, but this week I learned that we’re all sinful, and we have to believe in Jesus if we want eternal life. We also played A LOT of games, and we talked about the importance of teamwork, communicating, and not giving up in life.”
 

 



UGM Camp is truly the product of thousands of community members like you offering your love to kids you’ve never even met. From single sponsorships to major endowments, every gift tells an at-risk child that he or she is immeasurably valuable. This truth alone has the power to break the cycle of poverty, abuse, and even addiction in their and their families’ lives. Thank you. 

 

 

Every major expansion across the ministry, including many improvements at UGM Camp, has been made possible through wisely stewarded legacy gifts. 

Learn more about becoming a Legacy Partner. Click here. >>

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